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Legal Struggle Following Lakewood Church Tragedy: The Custody Battle Over Survivor Son

Tragedy at Lakewood Church: A Family’s Heartbreak

On a fateful day at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Genesse Moreno, aged 36, entered armed and caused unimaginable chaos. Dressed in a trench coat and armed with two rifles, Moreno opened fire while her son Samuel, just seven years old, stood horrifyingly close. Tragically caught in the crossfire, Samuel now fights for his life in the hospital, his condition critical and his future uncertain.

Pictured in September 2022, Enrique Carranza and his son Sam smile in a photo shared by Carranza’s mother

The shooter has been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, who previously used the name Jeffrey and has a lengthy criminal record going back to 2005. She is seen in 2022

The Immediate Aftermath: Responding to Crisis

In an immediate response to the gunfire, two off-duty police officers present at the scene acted swiftly to neutralize the threat, ultimately leading to Moreno’s death. The specifics of Samuel’s injuries—whether caused by his mother or during the police intervention—remain unclear. Amidst this chaos, Samuel’s paternal grandmother has traveled from her home to be by his side, showcasing the family’s desperate hope during this grave time.

Sam’s grandmother, Walli Carranza is a rabbi and was not surprised about anti-semitic rants police found in Moreno’s car after the shooting

Custody Battle and Complicated Backgrounds

The backdrop to this tragic event is a protracted legal battle over Samuel’s custody that has unfolded over the past four years. Genesse Moreno and her ex-husband, Enrique Carranza, have been locked in a dispute that questions her capacity to care for their son, exacerbated by her mental health challenges, including schizophrenia and Munchausen by proxy. Despite these issues, how Moreno retained custody and legally obtained firearms remains a matter of grave concern, highlighting potential gaps in the system intended to protect the vulnerable.

Moreno was previously arrested for assault, weapons, marijuana possession and forgery charges. Seen in 2005

Moreno was previously arrested for assault, weapons, marijuana possession and forgery charges. Seen in 2009

Moreno seen in 2000

Adding depth to the tragedy, friends and family point out Moreno’s tendency to use Samuel as a pawn in her disputes with Carranza. Carranza, who has a complex legal history and resides in Florida, was recently jailed for legal non-compliance regarding his sex offender status. This custody battle, set against the backdrop of Moreno’s unstable mental state and her controversial views, paints a picture of a deeply troubled family dynamic that ultimately culminated in a public and painful ordeal.

Emotional and Legal Repercussions

As the community reels from this incident, the focus also shifts to broader systemic failures. Walli Carranza, Samuel’s grandmother, has openly criticized Texas’ child protective services and the state’s gun laws, arguing that they failed to prevent Moreno from endangering her son. Her poignant reflections underscore the broader implications of personal tragedy on public policy and community safety. Meanwhile, the debate continues on how such devastating circumstances could have been mitigated, and what measures need to be in place to prevent similar future incidents.